English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2007-2008

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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  So many times we have hit the word “stone”, but never we knew how many different and interesting
meanings it had, or how old the word was, just as we do not know how old a stone is. “Stone” was
used in literature around 888 from Alfred Boethius, however, everybody can acknowledge that the word
was used before but not recorded in script, so we really do not know how old the word stone is.
Today, we use the word stone describing something very hard, a small rock, which is how it was used
on his second oldest meaning, however, its most ancient meaning (825 A.D.) was of a rock, a cliff,
or of a rocky ground, and it was first recorded in the Bible, in Psalm 27: 5, “in stane upahof” or
as translated today, “set me high upon a rock”. “Stone’s” history reflects the English language’s
history with its enriching history, and all its various meanings reflecting the evolvement of the
English language.

When asked to use stone on a sentence, most people would say something such as, “The stone hit my
toe,” or “I cleared off the stones from my garden,” however, let us look at five different
occasions, two emigrants, one of which has lived in the US for 20 years, a US citizen cleaning her
garden, a teenager, and a priest surprised of somebody asking him what the word “stone” means. What
was common to all the interviews, excluding the priest, who thinking somebody was hopping for him to
make a mistake, described “stone” as a very hard object, which is totally normal, because according
to the Oxford American Dictionary, “stone” is a hard, solid, not metallic matter, which is a fancy
way of saying something hard. What the teenager added would be “Harry Potter” in book 1, where the
conflict lay around the Sorcerer’s Stone, and in book 7, where the Resurrection Stone plays a big
role as well. The Priest, who again though I was trying to ask him a tricky question added Peter the
Apostle, as recorded in the Bible that Jesus appointed him the name stone, in Greek being Petra, or
Peter. Therefore, 80%, but 100% understood knew the right or most common definition of “stone” while
the J. K. Rowling series were included as well, and… Peter the Apostle.

Would a person for who English is not their native language know this word? Well, being an emigrant
myself, I think I am the best person to answer this question. I started learning English from 3rd
grade, and even though I cannot recall when I actually learned the word “stone”, I would bet it was
very early, simply because of the fact that stone is a very basic word used in our every day
conversations, however, being in a family where my grandmother had graduated from an American
College (in Albania, the teachers were however American, and the lessons would be in English) and
where both my parents knew English, I think it was my privilege to have a wider English vocabulary,
however, I think none of my old classmates, who have never been to the US, would have any kind of
problem defining it.

In its 1200 year history, the word “stone” has gained 15 different meanings, some of them being
slang, and even a swear. “The Philosopher’s Stone” is one of them, and with it is the impossible
quest of many and many alchemists to “transform” different metals into gold. In means “a person
without feeling figuratively”, used first in 1388. It means as well a “tombstone, or gravestone”. As
well, it means an object of idolatrous worship, used only around the 1400, however, still surviving.
It was used as an “ancient missile” (stone thrown from catapults). A precious stone, definition
still surviving today. What makes some people wonder how they got it, is the criminal slang “stone”
for a diamond, first recorded in the criminal folder No. 1500, if it means anything special, on
1904. It was also used as a swear, whose meaning is not to be included for ethic reasons. “stone”
has as well been a unit of measurement, and it hasn’t died yet according to the dictionary, even
though people would look at you strangely if you said, “I bought a stone of grapes.” It would be a
racing slang as well, similar to what we use today, “eat my dust”. It means as well a piece starting
a action which may lead to unforeseen and disastrous consequences, where Rolling Stone has its
roots, and from which the famous group, the Rolling Stones was named.

“Stone” has been used by many famous authors throughout its history. Alfred Boethius uses stone in
various times, him being the historical recorder of some of the oldest writings in Old English. Then
it was used by Shakespeare in his books: Richard IV, “Pitty, you ancient stones, those tender babes,
whom Enuie hath immur’d within your walls,” Richard III “Inestimable stones, vnvalwed Iewels,”
Measure for Measure, “Cracking the stones of the foresaid prewyns.” From Charles Dickens in his
book, The Old Curiosity Shop, “Horses clattered on the uneven stones.” Moreover, it is used in
Hall’s translation of the Iliad, “Greeks cease not to march, their stones and darts at random flye.”
It is as well used from Lovelich in legends about the Holy Grail, “Thanne let he fyllen a ston”, and
Sir Arthur Malroy in Arthur IV, “Oute of that pype ranne water… in stone of marbel”. It as well used
in the 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica, “The stones however, are good,” meaning precious stone. It is
in a criminal folder as well, for a diamond robbery, where the guilty calls the diamond “the
stone”.

It is very interesting to see in how many new ways the word “stone” is being used from the London
Times these last two weeks. On October 26th, 2007 in the article “Computers says no to obesity”,
“stone” is used as a unit of measurement, very old meaning of the word, however, very uncommon to
hear these days, “… who had 52-inch waist and weighted 21 stone…” Then, the word stone is used again
on October 30th, 2007, in the article “Why Men and Women Argue Differently”, as a swear, showing how
different people use different slang, “Stone balls!” Again, the British writer Brian Clarke decides
to be creative on October 29th, 2007, using stone with cases, where my guess is he means obvious or
stone cases, or cod cases. He says, “The stone cases of…” in his article “Don’t tell me this is
sport; this is hunting, one on one” published that day by the London Times.

It is very relevant that the word stone, this old word, used in 15 different meaning, still all of
them living, even though on their last breath, shows that evolvement of the English languages, from
where some meanings of a word die, and others born, where the timeline shows clearly a pattern
similar of a tire, which always rolls, where the top gets in the bottom and vice versa, what also
happens with words, new one are born and then die, and old ones reborn. In its 1200 years of
existence, from the 825 to this very sentence, there are numberless authors using this simple word
in not only 15, but numberless meanings, some of which, unfortunately are lost in the sands of
history. Today, millions of English speakers have “stone” in their very essential vocabulary,
however, very few of them know its “birthday” or that it is an old swear, or that when they hear two
robbers talking about a “stone”, they mean a diamond, or that the Rolling Stones “stole” their name
from a sign of agony in Older English, definitions that if are not dead now, soon will be. English,
this rich language is loosing some of its oldest meaning, let us not let that continue.
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Scribe,

I am writing to you to tell you about our latest decision on omitting one of the books of the
British Literature Timeless Themes Timeless Voices for 10 graders. This cut is happening mainly
because of a budget cut we have experienced lately, and it has been established from the board that
your book, Beowulf will be omitted from the textbook. You must understand that it has been a very
difficult decision, after all, this book is the national epic of England, but the problem is that
the other candidates were figures such as Mallory, Master Anonymous, and Shakespeare, and
unfortunately, your work was found to be the least appropriate one. We are omitting your book for
three principal reasons, because it contradicts itself in more than one instance, because it does
not have a strong constructive moral that would help the students reading it in any way in life, and
finally because there is more than one instance when the play becomes

First, you contradict yourself in many instances. From the very second page, you talk about how Beo
crossed over to God's keeping, and then you say, “No wise man in the hall knows who salvaged
that boat.” Now not only here in this case you contradict yourself, but you go against your own
beliefs. You are a monk and you doubt the existence of God, so that would actually give away a very
strong negative message to the students reading the book, and even though I know that you tried to
preserve the book's originality as much as you could, you should either change the whole book
into a Christian text, or leave it in its original point, as a pagan text. But even more than that,
the instance when the book really goes against itself is when Beowulf kills Grendel. How can
Beowulf, a normal sized man be able to kill Grendel, a monster thirty times bigger than him? As he
would have gripped his arms, he would have been lifted in the air rather than break the monster’s,
ehich alone must have weighted more than Beowulf. As Matthew Gurewitsch from the Smithsonian says,
“WHAT A GIANT Grendel must be. For supper he scoops up sleeping warriors 30 at a crack. Imagine the
width of his jaws. Yet Beowulf the Avenger brings him down in single combat. Stripped of armor,
Beowulf rips the monster's arm off at the shoulder with his bare hands. Yet the hero is just a
human being. Where does he get the leverage?” As you can see for yourself, especially in that case,
your text really attacks itself.

Then, you do not have any strong constructive message that will help the students in their lives.
The main character is a fatalist that bases his life in fate and in fate only. You should know that
about any fraction of Christianism does not believe in faith anymore, but in free will. To make the
main character of the poem a person that believes he is just an actor of a play some God has written
is just wrong. He says, “Fate will unwind itself as it must.” The only message that gives to the
students is that there is no way how they can change their life, because their life has already been
planned for them before they were even born, and therefore if they are doing miserable, they should
not even try to change it, and if they are doing great, that is how it going to be forever. And if
things change, it was not what they did, it was just fate. That would mean that they would then have
no excitement to continue life, and that is wrong. According to Christopher M. Cain, “The sense of
fatalism that pervades the poem has discouraged many critics from seeing Beowulf as a kind of Old
Testament worthy pagan who typologically prefigures Christian doctrine.” "This fatalism,"
Huppe writes, "reveals that Beowulf, governed by the law of revenge, is self-doomed, and it
reveals the futility of a society not governed and directed by the goal of salvation"

Even more, your book is filled with violence that really goes over any limits all owed for the
students' age. As Beowulf says, “my people have seen me rise bathing in my enemies'
blood.” Now since when is “bathing” in your enemies' blood a quality? What this does is give
more influence for violence to teenagers. I think that their parents should be given a break; they
have to watch out for violence in television, in the movies, in the Internet, do they have to watch
out for what their children read at school too? I personally think that is too much. Beowulf must be
a really great commander, and an able leader, ,so able that he becomes king later on, but as his
troops are having a taste of how hell feels like, he is running around cheating with Hrothgar's
wife, the same person that praises and loves Beowulf the most. That is a valuable quality, is it
not? Then, you go to talking about love triangles, and you say that while his men were being
slaughtered by Grendel's mother, he was “somewhere else”, and one may just wonder what that
really means. Then, when Beowulf gives his long speech, you say Wealthow liked his words well as she
gave him the cup. Try to imagine that moment in your head, then try to imagine what a teenager would
think about that moment. Even Eric Wilson in “The Blood Wrought Peace” says that, “Beowulf is driven
by violence. No act of violence in the poem is self-contained, but it results from prior violence
and causes future bloodshed; the violence is so excessive that it threatens the very moorings of
civilization.” Therefore, we cannot let violent content into a textbook. Beowulf, who is supposed to
be the hero of the story, the person that the students should see as a role model has all the
characteristics that we do not want our students to have, and therefore, he has to “move” from
there.

I want to tell you once again than no matter how much this letter may look like it is about
offending your work, your book was cut only for budget purposes and we hope that it will be in our
pages again, with some cuts, of course. Your book is the national epic in England, and that is not
really something easy to achieve, because there are far more famous authors in England, and from all
of them, you were chosen, which means that at least in one way, you are seen as the greatest among
them. As Balzac has said, “Correct, correct forever,” no book in this world is ever done, and i
strongly believe that with your talent you can rework on this book and make it much better, which
would mean that you would not be getting this letter anytime soon anymore, because as I was telling
you before, the vote was close.

Sincerely,
Gjergji Evangjeli

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  Formula-1 is a sport that got its name from the word “formula.” “Formula”, according to the Oxford
English Dictionary, is first used as a word in 1581, but not in the contest of racing. It was not
until 1946 that Formula-1 appeared, even though the idea of having this type of contest originates
before World War II. The world “Formula” refers to a set of rules that every car must fulfill in
order to be able to be called a F-1 car. The most basic of these rules is of course, the vehicle has
to have four wheels. England and Formula-1 have a very close history. According to the official
Formula-1 website, the first World Championship Race was held at Silverstone, England in 1950. If
one checks British newspapers, according to the London Metro, F-1 (short for Formula-1) is ranked as
the fourth most written about sport in England, according to the London Times it is the third most
written sport, while the telegraph does not include a special feed just for F-1. Being so frequently
written about, anybody could say that F-1 reveals much about Britain, British literature and its
development, offering a wide variety of themes to talk about, from ordinary gossip to complicated
scientific articles on how to make the cars go faster.

The first F-1 World Championship in Silverstone, England ended with the win of the Italian Giuseppe
Farina and his Alpha Romeo, according to the official F-1 website. Though in the years to come there
would be many other drivers far more skilled than Farina, he will always be remembered as the grand
master of F-1. The first British driver is Stirling Moss, who will as well be remembered as one of
the best drivers in history that never won a championship. The F-1 world has however passed through
a “British Era” which refers to the years 1958-1973, when 13 from the 16 World Championships were
won by British drivers, according to the F-1 official website. Then this “jinx” was broken and
several drivers of different nationalities won. That was until 1994, when the world most famous F-1
driver came to the game. The German Michael Schumacher, now considered the greatest driver of the
F-1 world, won seven championships during his ten years career as a professional F-1 driver
according to the official F-1 site. However, British drivers had yet to have a “comeback”. This year
Lewis Hamilton, a 22 years old British driver became the first rookie in the history of F-1 to win
the first race in his professional career, as announced by the official F-1 website.

This year’s most successful as well as most modest driver is of course Lewis Hamilton, the British
rookie who has impressed the world by wining the first race he competed on professionally. In a
recent interview for AutoWeek, titled “The Kid? More like The Man” by Curt Cavin the young driver
tries to explain his feelings dealing with F-1 and his first win this season. When asked about how
he feels about his two first wins I this season he simply answers, “What a dream. Very, very
emotional here. I would have never thought in a million years that I would be here today sitting
against these drivers here and finishing, winning both races in North America. So a great leap in my
career, in my life, and I'm extremely proud and thankful for my family and to God and to the
team.” (sic) Furthermore, when asked on why he waves to the crowd so much, he says, “They come to
support everyone. I don't see many drivers going to the front of the garage to wave; [the crowd
will] give you a clap. I appreciate all their support and them coming to support everyone. It's
nothing for me, on the in lap, to give everyone a wave and make them happy. I get a lot of energy
from the crowd.”

Few are the people however who know where the young drivers that come to the famous F-1 come from.
Actually, very few people know why F-1 has a “one” next to formula. That is because there is
something such as a F-3, or Formula-3. The best driver of the English F-3 is Max Chilton, from last
year, since this year’s season has not yet started. As the official F-3 website says, he is only 16
years old. During his last race however, he did not do as well as he expected. However, he says for
his official website, “It has been a good experience for me to do this. The race, or rather the
procession, was disappointing, but I'm happy that I could show my pace in testing and more
importantly in qualifying. I would like to thank the Velocity Motor sport team for giving me the
opportunity and being so helpful and friendly. It has been an enjoyable surprise having come out
here expecting to race with Tom (his brother) in the sportscar.” He is as well very modest and does
not see himself as superstar, though he dreams becoming a F-1 racer in the future.

F-1 is clearly nearly always in the news, from innovation made to a certain car (constantly
happening) to the latest gossip about the drivers and their personal life there is always new
information about them in the newspapers. F-1 being the most expensive sport in history, F-1 drivers
are the most paid in the world. The latest article concerned with F-1 in the London Times is in
March 25, where Giles Smith talks about “Steve Rider a Sight for F-1’s Sore Eyes” talking about the
latest “incident” in the sport, which was getting champagne in one of the drivers’ eyes. “We should
put it in the mouth and not in the eye,” Finn said. “But sometimes things go wrong.” Indeed.
It's down to the authorities, of course, but technical insiders reckon that we could be looking
at the introduction of some kind of limiter on the bottleneck. Alternatively, goggles - which would
be a nice touch, in keeping with motor racing's heritage.” Relatively funny article, since in
F-1 every incident requires a new upgrade for the cars (unfortunately for some, that does not work
in champagne opening was well…). F-1 as well appears in memoirs written by retired mechanics or
drivers, who want to share their stories as part of this sport with the world. Some of them are, The
Mechanic’s Tale: Life in the Pit-Lanes of Formula One by Steve Matchett, and The Formula One
Miscellany by John White and Stirling Moss.

F-1 is clearly still a developing sport. It is a fairly young sport that has a very rich history,
but it is clearly still in its developing stages. There are new upgrades and innovation made every
day, and there are of course new talents yet to come. As for the sport in Britain, now more than
ever, it is in its way to becoming more and more popular every day, and will soon, if not already be
ranked next to sports that have existed for many centuries before F-1 such as football (soccer) and
cricket. F-1 is clearly on a very high ascend in popularity not only in Britain but in all the
world, now having many World Championships spread all over the world, not just in Europe.
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


From the time when time wasn’t recorded literature and books has been the most common way of
educating someone, without books, we would be living in total darkness. So from the old times to
this day, so many books have been written that if the richest man in the world would decide to buy a
copy of every book ever written he would go bankrupt quite quickly. Having a this rich world of
books therefore, written by masters such as Aesop, Homer, Plato, Virgil, Shakespeare, and many
others, the question rises, where do these authors come from and how does their ethnic background
affect their works? The most interesting case of seeing these effects is to look at a small island
off the coast of Europe, an ex-province of the Roman Empire, commonly called… England. With its rich
literary tradition, extending from Beowulf to Harry Potter in the resent days, British authors have
during many ears developed five common devices that set them apart from every other author. These
devices consist of: giving women the power to do what men have never done, the usage, or better say
the banishment of the caesura from poems, the death of legendary heroes in the end, the well know
theme of fidelity, and having a setting in small villages in England.

English authors are known to have seen equality between genders early on, and therefore they have
had many women receive power to do what they have never done. Such examples can come from the first
book ever written in English, Beowulf, where Wealhtheow, the queen of the Danes is given the power
to give away her sons to Beowulf, in a culture when having more than one child live and be strong
would be considered rare. She says, “Brave Beowulf, take these sons of mine/and train them as your
own,” (Chapter 29). This shows that Wealhtheow has the power over her own children in a time when
women are considered “a balm in bed” and control over Hrothgar, the king. As well, in Morte d’Artur,
Malroy has Arthur’s queen being given the right to give Gawain a quest he must complete in a year
and a day in exchange for his life. So basically the queen is bailing Gawain’s life. The narrator
says, “And gave him to the queen, as she would will,/Whether she’d save him or his blood should
spill” (50-51) Until that time in literature as well as in history women were not even allowed to
listen when men brought forth a trial, never mind giving them the power to actually decide what to
do with the ones that are guilty. As well, Doris Lessing, a feminist, in her book Martha Quest, has
Martha, has Martha grow up by herself, without the need of a manly guidance. Martha tells us, “I
have grown up by myself, with only my own help” (38). This shows that unlike most books printed
until the 1960’s Martha is able to prove for herself during her whole life without the help and
guidance of a male, implying that males are really unneeded. She clearly takes her feminist views
too far.

Yet another author is Master Anonymous, the mysterious writer of Gawain and the Green Knight, where
the Green Knight gives his wife the power to make Gawain break the code of chivalry, therefore
proving his point about Arthur’s knight’s being “beardless boys”. He tells Gawain, “I told my wife
to tempt you.” (895) In a more intriguing scenario, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the weird sisters are
given the power to manipulate and play with Macbeth’s mind, which would be not common during the
sixteenth century literature. They say, one after the other, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane
of Glamis!/All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!/All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king
hereafter!” (50-53). From that statement Macbeth is driven through the whole play, and one can truly
say they were the only guilty ones for Macbeth’s rise and fall. As well, Jane Austen in her novel
Sense and Sensibility has Marianne be able to refuse Willoughby, even after he is begging for her
forgiveness, which would not be common in those days in literature or in real life. She says, “I
would not have felt good with you anyway” (176). However, Mrs. Morshwell (the one from Rotten
reviews) writes however that Jane Austen is, “the prettiest, silliest butterfly looking for love…”
making fun of her noble concept of love and stance on feminism.
As well, older British authors have been known for the usage of the caesura. The oldest British
book, Beowulf, uses a caesura:


Hwæt wé Gar-Dena in geâr-dagum
Pêod-cyninga prim gefrunon
Hû dâ œpelingas ellen fremedon
Oft Scylf Scêfing sceapena prêatum.
Monegum mœgpum meodo-setla oftêah; (1-5)


As you can see from the tracing, the caesura shows a curved line, to attract the reader toward it.
But clearly the Scribe is not the only one who uses the caesura, years after the Scribe, Master
Anonymous uses the caesura in his book, Gawain and the Green Knight:


Wel gay watz pis gome gered in grene
& pe here on hi hed of his hors swete;
Fayre fannand fax vmberfoldeshis schulderes;
A much berd as busk over his brest hengers
Pat with his hizlich here, pat od his head reches,
Watz euesed al vmbertorne, abof his elbowes (I: IX: 1-5)


He as well makes the caesura curved, to as well draw the attention of the reader. However the
caesura does not die with those two poets, Shakespeare, the author of Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius
Caesar, etc. uses the caesura:


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alter when it alternation finds,
Or bends wit the remover to remove
O, no! It is an ever fixed mark (116: 1-5)


In this case not as visible as in the other cases, there is still a caesura, since the lines are
interrupted into two ideas, even though some might be depended on the other clause. However, Swift,
does not use this feature. In his poem “To Stella” he writes:


When on my sickly couch I lay
Impatient both of night and day,
And groaning in unmanly strains,
Called every power to ease my pains,
Then Stella ran to my relief;
With cheerful face and inward grief; (1-6)


We see here that there are no two sentence verses, nor is there a space that divided two ideas in
the same verse. We see therefore that from that period there was a revolution in the usage of the
caesura.

As we can see therefore the caesura is still living, even after 500 years of usage, it seem as no
modernization can touch it, or so think some people. Wordsworth, in his book Lyrical Ballads writes
for the reader: “… we have tried to get rid of all poetic diction…” (2), among which the caesura
certainly holds a place. To that Mr. J. McGonegal would say, “Wordsworth really tries to get rid of
poetic diction, but in truth, he fails.” Wordsworth therefore, though the creator of this concept
that poetry should not be filled with devices that just sound good, but rather pure beautiful
poetry. Later and contemporary poets however have less of a problem with canceling out not only the
caesura, but poetic diction as a whole. For example, Lord Byron, in his poem “The Song of Saul”
writes:


Warriors and chiefs! should the shaft or the sword
Pierce me in leading the host of the Lord,
Heed not the corpse, though a king’s in your path:
Bury your steel in the bosoms of Gath!

Thou who art bearing my buckler and bow,
Should the soldiers of Saul look away from the foe,
Stretch me that moment in blood at thy feet! (1-6)
As we can see in the poem, though there is, here and there, some trace of poetic diction, the
caesura is definitely gone for good it seems. As well, in his poem “When I was One and Twenty”, A.
E. Houseman writes:


When I was one and twenty,
I heard a wise man say,
“Give out crowns and pounds and guineas,
But not your heart away.”
But I was one and twenty,
No use to talk to me. (1-6)


And as we can clearly see, has really no caesura or any other “old trick” as Wordsworth would put
it, which shows that really he has realized his dream of having a “diction free” world. And finally,
let us look at a contemporary text, Harry Potter, which has no caesura, no rime, and even no verses,
but rather is a prose, which is the most “liberal” form of a poem and of telling a story. J. K.
Rowling writes in a much easier to understand format, for example in one case Dumbledore says,
“Severus Snape was indeed a Death Eater. However, he rejoined our side before Lord Voldemort's
downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk. He is now no more a Death Eater than I am”
(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 682). In these lines we can see a total liberation from the
caesura, rime, no reference to any “trick” to make it look good, just pure clean writing that
attracts the reader for what it is, not for how it looks.

Good books, as much as we don’t want them to, come to an end, and they sometimes come to a very
tragic end. Some British authors reserve the end for a shocking death of a legendary figure. Such
books are Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where in the end Snape kills Dumbledore. J. K.
Rowling writes, “A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape’s wand and hit Dumbledore squarely
in the chest. Harry’s scream of horror never left him; silent and unmoving, he was forced to watch
as Dumbledore was blasted into the air” (595-596). Dumbledore, a great leader, a great mentor, a
great wizard, sacrifices his life to save Malfoy and Harry from becoming murderers to be killed by
Snape, a very sad and heroic end to the life of such a great teacher. As well, Mallory has Sir
Tristram die at the end of the story “Sir Tristram and the Fair Iselut”, he writes: “Then he ceased
to struggle for his life, and in a few minutes Tristram of Lyonesse was dead” (164). Tristram, this
epic hero who killed the dragon, restored peace between two countries, and served Arthur bravely is
dead. His death, though not as meaningful as Dumbledore’s, still gives us a powerful message about
lying. As well, though more intriguing, Shakespeare has Macbeth die in the end of the play Macbeth.
Though many people might see him as a negative person, he is still the hero of the play, and after
all he deserves that name, since it is only thanks to him that Scotland is still free, if it weren’t
for his great bravery, Norway would have conquered Scotland. He writes, “Hail King! For thou art:
behold, where stands/Th’ usurper’d cursed head” (V: VIII: 84-85) Macbeth’s death as well gives a
powerful message to the world, that letting your life be manipulated by others always results in
doing yourself and the world bad.

As well Houseman writes in his poem, “To an Athlete Dying Young”, hence its name to an athlete that
has died young, though not a hero for the world, this young athlete is a hero for his own village,
and as so he deserves the right praise. He writes, “To-day, the road all runners come,/Shoulder-high
we bring you home,/And set you at/your threshold down,/Townsman of a stiller town”(5-8). These lines
show the glory that he was buried with. In addition, Lord Byron writes in his poem “The Song of Saul
before His Last Battle”, “Bright is the diadem, boundless the sway,/Or kingly the death, which
awaits us to-day!” (11-12). Virginia Woolf however gives the most tragic ending of all, not an
ending to a book, but the ending of her own life. She completes the story of her life by drowning
herself. In a suicide note to her husband she says:


Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those
terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't
concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest
possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two
people could have been happier till this terrible disease came.


So Virginia Woolf kills herself in March 28th 1941, therefore ending a life that is worth a novel.

However, some other British authors do not let their heroes die physically, but rather spiritually
in their poems. For example, George Orwell has his story 1984 end with Winston being physically
alive, however his world is killed. All his dreams, all his beliefs all his feelings are killed, so
much that he says, “I love you Big Brother” (300). That means that the Winston we knew, the one who
was willing to give his life for his beliefs, is dead. As critic Christopher Natoli puts it, “With
this idea, a strong instinct, and an ethical mind, he hazards his life—the life of “the last man in
Europe,” and ultimately kills the “last man in Europe.”


Infidelity is another “value” British authors use in their works. For example, in Shakespeare’s
play, Macbeth, the weird sisters play around with their fidelity to Macbeth as in a tennis game,
they switch sides in second, by giving him signs that really cannot be interpreted without knowing
what the future is, and unfortunately for Macbeth, he doesn’t. They give him symbols that can be
interpreted both ways, such as the second one, “Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn/The
power of man, for none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth” (IV: I: 79-81). This illusion, telling
Macbeth that he cannot be hurt by any “woman born”, is really predicting his death, and who will
kill him, Macduff, a caesarian born, who in the end kills him, while Macbeth interprets this as him
being unable to be hurt by any man. As well, Orwell has Winston betray Julia in room 101. It seems
that Winston loses the fidelity for his girlfriend from the fear of his most hated creatures,
rats. Orwell writes, “Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to
her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia!” (289). Critic Daniel Rosenthal says
in this case, “concentrating mostly on the love story between Winston and Julia and on what is, in a
sense, the love affair between Winston and his torturer, O'Brien,” referring to the idea that
in a way Winston is infidel to Julia and betrays her by loving and becoming more intimate with the
party. So finally evil triumphs over good, Winston gives up his beliefs, betrays his lover, and
finally loves Big Brother by showing him hate, infidelity, values prized by the Party.

As well, Jane Austen has John Willoughby betray Marianne, he even sends her a letter saying that is
engaged to someone else: “ You understand that my affections have been long engaged elsewhere, and
it will not be for many weeks, I believe, before the engagement is fulfilled” (305). John in these
verses tells Marianne that not only he has been engaged to another girl while they were having a
relationship with each other, but that he didn’t even feel anything for Marianne. As well, though in
another environment, in Prose Works Jonathan Swift accused the vendors of infidelity toward their
costumers. He writes:


On Thursday morning there was little or nothing transacted in ‘Change- alley’; there were a
multitude of sellers, but so few buyers, that one cannot affirm the stocks bore any certain price
except among the Jews; who this day reaped great profit by their infidelity. There were many who
called themselves Christians, who offered to buy for time; but as these were people of great
distinction, I choose not to mention them, because in effect it would seem to accuse them both of
avarice and infidelity. (6).


As we can see, Swift accuses the salesmen for infidelity because they reap the costumers by selling
their products at a higher price than they should. As well, Doris Lessing, in her short story “No
Witchcraft for Sale” has the Farquars betray Gideon by accepting to let the scientist talk to him,
expecting that he would reveal the root he had used to cure the little boy. Doris Lessing writes for
us, “He [Gideon] spoke incredulously, as if he could not believe his old friends could so betray
him” (1120).

It is a characteristic of British authors to put their stories in the small villages in England.
For example for example, Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” is
settled in a destroyed Catholic Church in a small village in Wales. He writes, describing the nature
around the church “… Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves/’Mid groves and copses. Once
again I see/These hedge—rows, hardly hedge—rows, little lines/Of sportive woods running wild”
(13-16). Being a romanticist, Wordsworth is skillful in describing such a beautiful environment
around Tintern Abbey. In addition, Jane Austen has her book Pride and Prejudice settled in
Longbourn, a small village in England. The plot talks about the adventures of the Bennets, who have
six daughters and the newcomer, Charles Bingley. Austen writes, “They returned, therefore, in good
spirits to Longbourn, the village where they lived, and of which they were the principal
inhabitants” (12). In this novel there is no definite description of the setting, but rather bits of
it spread all around the novel. As well, Virginia Woolf has her novel To the Lighthouse settled in
Skye, a village in the island with the same name. She writes in the introduction of the book, “While
every page of TO the Lighthouse is infused with my memories of the idyllic summers in Cornwall, it
is se, of course, not in the south-west corner of England, but on Skye, the largest island of the
Inner Hebrides, off the north-west coast of Scotland, that is why the description of the flora and
fauna is totally incorrect” (xxvii). Many critics however, as she says in her introduction, have
told her to either change the name of the setting or actually visit Skye and get the correct
information. The novel however, accurate or not, is still enjoyable.

So the question is, “So what, who cares?” After all, what is so special about the literature of
this small island in the confines of Europe? The truth is however that out of this small island,
which has been a great empire for a long time, have come many valued works of world literature that
are still today studied and analyzed. Therefore it is more than important to study, read, and try to
understand the “secrets” of the literature of such a well-developed nation. It is crucial for the
advance of knowledge of a person, even more high school sophomores, to try to take from the
vocabulary and the ideas of such great authors. Authors like Shakespeare, Orwell, the first British
author, the Scribe, Master Anonymous, Mallory, and many others, only enrich the knowledge and the
understanding.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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